Following the death of two women in a rental car and a decade-long battle by their parents, President Barack Obama signed a measure into law recently that prevents the majority of rental companies to rent vehicles that are the subject of recall actions. Before selling or renting recalled vehicles, the company must ensure that the vehicles are safe to drive. This law will ensure that drivers nationwide, including here in Tennessee, are not exposed to unsafe motor vehicles obtained from car rental companies.
The legal battle ensued in Oct. 2004 when two sisters, ages 24 and 20, traveled in a rented PT Cruiser, unaware of the fact that the vehicle had been recalled a month earlier. During the drive, the vehicle unexpectedly swerved across the median into the opposite lanes and crashed into an 18-wheeler that was traveling in the opposite direction. The Cruiser caught fire and both the women lost their lives.
Subsequently, the parents found out about the recall that was ordered due to the possible loss of steering caused by a potential fire in a defective power steering hose. It was later determined that the rental company had ignored the recall and failed to repair the defect. Also, the same vehicle had apparently been rented on three other occasions that month. Had the new law been in effect at the time, the tragedy might have been avoided.
With the new law in place, Tennessee motorists who suffer injuries or lose loved ones in crashes that result from defects in unsafe motor vehicles provided by rental companies may pursue litigation against the company. Product liability claims can become extremely complicated, and the knowledge and experience of a product liability attorney may be invaluable. A lawyer can assist in pursuing the claim in a civil court with the goal to achieve a monetary judgment to cover financial and emotional losses suffered by a client.